Amblyopia, low vision or “lazy eye” is an eye where normal visual function has not developed in childhood. It is found in 2-3% of the population. It usually occurs in one eye, but both eyes may be weak.
When does it occur and what is the cause of amblyopia?
Amblyopia occurs in early childhood and if not detected in time and treated properly, the eye can remain visually impaired forever. There are several reasons for amblyopia. The most common cause of amblyopia is strabismus. The eye that looks away has a blurred image, the brain excludes the blurred image that comes from the strabic eye, which causes paleness. The second reason is the existence of unequal refractive error between the eyes. This can cause amblyopia of the eye, which has a larger diopter. The image that is created in the brain is blurred, so the brain shuts it down, and the function is taken over by the better eye or the eye with a smaller refractive error. It can be farsightedness, nearsightedness or the presence of astigmatism. The third so-called Deprivation amblyopia is fortunately the rarest, and occurs when there is some obstruction in the optical media, such as a congenital cataract.
How can it be detected (symptoms)?
If parents or loved ones notice a curvature in one or both eyes, they should contact an ophthalmologist immediately. If parents notice blinking of one eye, turning of the head to the side or grumbling (crying) of the child when you accidentally cover the better eye, you should immediately call an ophthalmologist, no matter what age the child is (sometimes in the first few weeks of life).
How is amblyopia treated?
It is essential to force the weaker eye, which means closing the better eye forces the weaker eye to take over the function. If it is a stubborn eye, it is first operated on to achieve a normal direction of the eye (orthophoria), and then by closing the better eye, the function of the weaker eye is stimulated. The second way to treat amblyopia is by putting drops (atropine) in the better (dominant) eye, which causes the pupil to dilate, and thus get a blurry picture of it, so the weaker eye will take over the function. Both methods require perseverance and great cooperation from parents and children, who at first find it difficult to accept this method of treatment. But the rule is that the earlier you start treatment, the better, and the results are much better.
What is new in the treatment of amblyopia?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2015 at its annual meeting presented the so-called electronic glasses that can replace the classic way of treating amblyopia. In the last 50 years, this is the first new method in the treatment of the lazy eye. Electronic glasses (ablises) or as they are called “digital occluder”, at the same time enable the refractive error of the eye (diopter) and make occlusion (closure). They look just like ordinary glasses, only they have a built-in battery that is charged daily, do not interfere with the daily activities of the child, and can be worn by children from 3 to 10 years old. They work on the principles of glass fogging (LCD) enabled by the built-in microchip. This blur is pre-programmed, based on the degree of blurred vision of the eye. For example, the glass that covers the better eye is blurred every 30 seconds thus the function is taken over by the weaker eye. Examinations were performed using a classic occluder and the use of electronic glasses, the results were identical. However, the comfort provided by electronic glasses will certainly be more acceptable for both children and parents from both a functional and aesthetic point of view. These glasses are available in the United States.